Rising water in Ghana brought death to the capital when it caused an explosion at a petrol station where people had been seeking shelter on Wednesday night.
Although the fire brigade indicated that there were roughly 90 casualties at first, the death toll has been rising. President John Mahama said on Thursday night that the death toll had been rising, doubling to approximately 150.
Rescue workers were able to put out the flames and secure the area, but the flooding has made it difficult to evacuate bodies. As the flooding recedes, the death toll may continue rising.
President Mahama told Reuters, “This loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented. We must sit down and strategize to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Nana Akufo Addoo, the opposition leader, added that it was a “dark day in the history of the city.”
The explosion happened when torrential rains caused rising water to sweep fuel being stored at the station into a fire affecting a nearby building. Many people taking refuge in the building were killed instantly, others drowned as they attempted to swim to safety.
VOAnews reported that Billy Anaglate, a fire brigade spokesman, took the time to explain what had happened.
“Because it is a filling station there were a lot of fuel particles around it and it got contaminated with the water. But it’s running water so it was able to run from the filling station to a distance where there was a naked fire and it picked [up] the fire from there.”
One of the women to escape death spoke about the situation with Reuters.
“We heard a pop. Then the fire was walking where the petrol was. Everybody was running. You had to fight for yourself. My bag fell inside the water… All the people in the filling station died.”
President Mahama has given his word that the government will take steps to ensure that something like this cannot happen again.
He believes the cause of the floods stems from the rising population building homes and businesses on waterways. Those buildings are causing a blockage to the city’s drainage systems.
“Steps will be taken to ensure that disastrous floods and their attendant death do not occur again,” he said.
President Mahama also announced that the nation will mourn the death of their people for three days starting on Monday. He has also created a $12 million dollar recovery fund to aid in rebuilding.
[Image courtesy of Kingsley Osei Bonsu]